Women and children apparently also died in the intense attacks in the southern Gaza Strip. According to US media, planning the offensive on Rafah will take even more time.
During Israeli attacks during a hostage rescue operation in the area of the city of Rafah Gaza Strip According to Palestinian information, dozens of Palestinians were killed. The Hamas-controlled health authority reported at least 70 dead and more than 160 injured. The information could not initially be independently verified.
For the first time since the Gaza war began more than four months ago, the Israeli army managed to free two civilian hostages in Rafah overnight. At the end of October, special forces had already freed a female soldier. According to the army, the two freed men are 60 and 70 years old and are in good condition.
Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that during the night there was heavy fighting between extremist Palestinians and soldiers in the Rafah area, as well as serious Israeli attacks.
The Islamist terrorist organization Hamas spoke in a statement of “massacres” of women, children and elderly people who had previously fled from other parts of the Gaza Strip. Hamas put the number of deaths at more than 100 in the attacks.
Planning for the offensive obviously still takes time
US media had previously reported that Israel’s army had not yet completed planning a military offensive on Rafah. She will “probably take some time” and is not yet prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu The New York Times quoted Israeli officials and analysts as saying. The strategy for an offensive on the an Egypt The bordering city, where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people have sought protection, is “very complex”.
Israel’s plan has met with international criticism. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) warned that this would be “a humanitarian catastrophe.” US President Joe Biden called for a convincing concept for the protection of the civilian population there.
Biden’s government also has concerns about Israel with regard to the Muslim month of fasting that begins on March 10th Ramadan The New York Times reported, citing two Israeli officials. An attack on Rafah during Ramadan could be seen as particularly provocative by Muslims in the region and beyond, it said. The Israeli media had previously said that Netanyahu assumed that Israel only had around a month due to international pressure and that the offensive on Rafah would therefore have to be completed by the beginning of Ramadan.
Egypt fears an influx of fleeing Palestinians
Netanyahu ordered the army on Friday to prepare an offensive on Rafah. “It is impossible to achieve the war goal of eliminating Hamas if four Hamas battalions remain in Rafah,” he said. The army should therefore prepare the evacuation of civilians. According to eyewitnesses, Israel has already attacked targets in the city from the air on several occasions. Israeli ground troops have not yet been deployed there. Egypt fears that a massive military operation in Rafah could lead to a rush of desperate Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Avi Poet from Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party suggested that residents of the Israeli-sealed Gaza Strip could be relocated to an area west of Rafah along the coast, the New York Times reported. Yaakov Amidror, a former general and national security adviser, also sees other options, including some areas in the center of the coastal strip where the military has not yet advanced. The nearby city of Khan Yunis could also be an option once Israel has ended the military operation there against Hamas, it said.
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